In a perfect world, we would have no need for prepping…but this is not a perfect world, nor are we perfect creatures occupying it. When it comes to survival, knowledge is king. You cannot develop and maintain skill sets without proper knowledge. In fact, the proper knowledge and will can outweigh all the gear you can cram in a bugout bag! However, having some electronic equipment, and the means to use it, will make life more manageable in a survival situation.
In order to use electronics effectively during a survival situation, you must have a way to provide power to them. While large scale alternative power plants, such as solar cell panels and residential wind turbines are nice, they are not portable. Since most preppers do not have a long term safe haven established, the source of power supply should be portable.
Portable Power Supply:
Small scale solar options are plentiful in today’s market. When selecting a portable solar power supply, consider those options that are compatible with a multitude of devices. Use common sense when making a purchase. Remember the adage; you get what you paid for! This applies to small scale solar products in particular. Spend a little money; buy once and buy right! Nothing will hamper your efforts more than discovering your portable solar power source is ineffective in real world applications!
Hand Crank Power Supply:
The most reliable source of power is you! Kinetic energy is power derived from the physical motion of other objects. For instance, when you ride a bike, your legs provide power to the pedals, which transfers that power to the drive train (gear and bike chain), which transfers that energy to the rear tire, propelling the bike forward. You can do the same with hand crank power supply equipment, or pedal power supply equipment, both of which will provide ample power as long as you are able to operate them!
This is an essential piece of prepper gear. In many cases, you can find one of these radios with an onboard hand crank power supply. This type of radio may not provide you with the capability of communicating with others, but it will keep you abreast of the situation back at home and inform you of when it is safe to return. It will also provide you with the ability to plan for weather should any be headed your way!
Many of these hand crank radios also have an onboard flashlight that is also powered by the cranking mechanism. When possible, purchase one that has all of these components. In emergency preparedness, we preach multi-use equipment as the most recommended and useful gear available; practice what is preached!
Two Way Communications:
While AM/FM/Weather radios are an excellent way to keep aware of current events, you will also need a method of communicating with others. Two way radios are recommended. Most of these are battery operated, rather than hand cranked, so make sure your alternative power supply source is compatible with the recharging dock for these types of radios!
Why are two way radios necessary? Because cell phone service may be interrupted, unavailable, or overloaded with air traffic, making them an ineffective means of getting ahold of someone!
For long term survival and global disaster scenarios, the HAM radio is going to be the best solution; however, they require a license and are costlier to purchase, not to mention they lack the portability of other communications platforms! CB radios may be a more cost efficient means of establishing communication.
There are several emergency lighting solutions available within the prepper community; DIY candle projects, lighting a fire, etc., but flashlights are again, the most portable option for providing personal lighting. There are several hand crank powered flashlights available, many of which are also AM/FM/Weather radios as described above. Purchase one that is hand crank capable. Using hand crank options when available, will reduce the amount of batteries you need to bring along, thereby reducing the overall weight of your bugout bag! Buy once and buy right in this category as well; you want something durable that will last for quite some time.
Hundreds of thousands of people require medical equipment on a daily basis, most of which will need a power source in order to function properly. This type of gear may require significantly more power than any of the opportunities mentioned above are able to produce. If you, or loved ones, require this type of medical equipment, then you should make preparations far in advance of ever needing to bugout or bug-in.
You should give serious consideration to developing an EMP protection plan for the electronic equipment you plan on bringing along. You will not be able to use it effectively if it is damaged by an EMP strike!